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High Society: 1921

High Society: 1921

February 5, 1921. "Miss Bertha May Graf, chosen the prettiest girl at suffrage headquarters in Washington, will be chief flower girl at the National Woman's Party convention." View full size. National Photo Company Collection.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Flower Girl

I find Miss Bertha lovely, and I'm curious as to what a flower girl would do at the convention. Arrange flowers? bring flowers? be as lovely as a flower?

Bertha Revisited

No person's face is symmetrical, but with the application of a bit of cosmetic makeup by a professional, Bertha would be prettier than a lot of the Hollywood stars of today. I am sure most of you have seen photos of famous stars sans their makeup as the internet brings them into our computers several times a year. Now what do you think of Bertha?

Re: Bertha

If she really was the prettiest girl in their headquarters, I'd love to see what the others looked like. No, on second thought, I guess I really wouldn't. But, what I think is interesting is that a bunch of women's rights feminists would find it necessary, or normal, to take a vote like that in the first place!

Ms Graf... this photo reminds me strongly of Dianne Wiest, who may not be everyone's idea of beauty. But I've always been fascinated by her face, and by her talent as an actress.

Perhaps what's throwing off many viewers is the fashionable little curls on Ms Graf's forehead. (The things we do to ourselves in the name of beauty!) Cover those curls, and you've found a face that might well be found in a painting by a Dutch master.


The comments on Miss Graf's attractiveness only support my opinion!

The measure of beauty is SUBJECTIVE... and "standards" of beauty change over the generations and cultures.

I wonder what the standard of beauty will be in a hundred years... hhhmmm

In the future...

...those who post aesthetic critiques of the long-dead should be required to submit their photographs, which will be published in, say, 50 years, at which time our kids and grandkids will post snide remarks about them.

Good lord

Some of the comments on this picture are really awful. How about you guys give us YOUR pictures so we can judge you on your bulbous nosed, asymmetrical horse faces?

You may congratulate yourselves that she'd discover she was a hideous beast if she were still alive to read your comments.

Would you like a picture of me so you can dissect it?

Bertha's Face


Look at the photo in the link Dave has provided in the second comment for a close-up frontal view of this lady. Save it to your desktop and then open it in the image editing software of your choice and blow it up 200%.

It's not the lighting...

Taking into account the tilt of her head: her eyes are not even, her facial features are asymmetrical, she has a bulbous nose and it also looks like she has a bad complexion.

I'm not suggesting that she is unworthy of voting or that she suffers in some way from a character flaw.

I do find it ironic in the first place that suffragettes would have a beauty contest and secondly that they picked a woman as an exemplar of suffragette beauty who, while not ugly, is just barely on this side of average looks-wise.


She wasn't judged as "pretty," but as "the prettiest of the ones we have available to us." And no doubt she'd find my face extremely easy to look away from, too!

Bertha Mae Again

Some of the comments regarding Bertha Mae seem to me (a guy) to be compelling arguments for not giving men the vote. Has it occurred to any of the people calling her homely or "horse-faced" that the fault may lie more with the lighting of the photograph than with the sitter? No, of course not.

Bertha Mae

The selection of Bertha Mae as Most Beautiful is not a compelling argument to give women the vote.

[Women already had the vote. - Dave]

Miss Graf

I'm not sure that she was judged beautiful by a Miss America type standard, but rather for an inner quality. That being said, however, I do find it disappointing that suffragettes felt it necessary to label one another with demeaning categorizations such as this. Why not "Most Intelligent" or "Most Persuasive Debater" or "Largest Feet"? You know, something a bit more meaningful.

More Bertha

I think she's pretty. She looks like she had a wonderful smile.


She looks a bit like Cate Blanchett, just in this photo not the other that you have the link to.

Bertha May Graf

I'm probably adding some time to my stay in purgatory, since I was always taught not to speak ill of the dead. However, I have to disagree with the characterization of this woman as beautiful. While I am certain this woman was of sterling moral character, she is simply not beautiful. Her facial features are irregular and asymmetric. She is a bit horse-faced in truth. Handsome might be a better adjective.

That being said, she is far better looking than the vast majority of the birkenstock and keffiyeh clad "feminists" who infested the college I attended.

[Another photo here. - Dave]

Who is she?

She truly is a remarkably beautiful woman. It would be neat to know what ultimately became of her. Although unlikely, she might even still be alive.

[Bertha May Graf died in 1959, according to legal notices placed in a California newspaper in February and March of that year. - Dave]

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